I’ve been a working homeschool mom for five years now and I have to state right off the bat, that I don’t always manage to juggle working and homeschooling my special needs twins.
My children can be incredibly resistant and this has made me rethink everything about education. I have also learned some strategies and mindset shifts along the way and I hope that they can help you if you’re in the same situation.
I Don’t Compare Myself to Others
When I started homeschooling, I wanted everything to be perfect. I’d scrolled through Pinterest and Instagram, seeing the beautiful homeschool rooms, happy homeschooled kids, and relaxed homeschooling moms. It made me feel so bad about myself because our homeschool did not look the same.
Once I realized that each homeschool is different and that my children required their own learning experience, I was able to let go of the need to compare myself to others. And it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders! It was also an opportunity to figure out what really worked for us and our unique situation.
You can let go of comparison with these easy tips:
- Like special needs homeschoolers or working homeschool moms on Instagram and Pinterest and let the algorithm fill your feed with inspiring and positive accounts.
- Practice gratitude regularly and be sure to remind yourself why you’re homeschooling and what you love about it.
- Involve your children in their learning because happy, engaged kids will mean a positive and effective homeschool and less stress for you.
- Accept that life will be messy and chaotic times and that priorities will shift and change.
I Am Very Flexible
No matter how you plan, organize or schedule, things will go wrong. This is especially the case with my neurodiverse children. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you consider yourself someone who has it all together. Recovering type-A personality over here!
Flexibility is vital for a successful special needs homeschool and I have leaned heavily into being flexible in mine. It’s been my saving grace because forcing and pushing does not work for my neurodivergent kids! And meltdowns are not conducive to an efficient working day.
We’ve been pliable in everything from the number of hours we homeschool, to how I schedule my working day and the curricula and programs we use. If something doesn’t work, we toss it and start again. I know that this might seem counter-intuitive, but it has meant crafting a homeschooling experience that works for us as a family.
You can practice flexibility in your homeschool by:
- being creative with your homeschool and work schedule,
- taking breaks when days get tough or you simply need to rest,
- regrouping every few months to see what’s working and what isn’t,
- not being afraid of change or doing things differently.
I Set My Expectations Very Low
High expectations, much like comparison, can really suck the joy out of home education. I definitely had unrealistic expectations when I started. In my mind, we would have a ‘home at school’ scenario where the kids would study for 8 hours a day and I would work for 8 hours as well.
As you can probably notice, the math just didn’t add up. It was not sustainable and we all felt frazzled and resentful. I had to let go of what I thought it should be and embrace what it was. Once those expectations were dropped, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
I’ve accepted that I won’t be able to juggle everything all the time and that it’s perfectly fine. Sometimes work needs to take priority over learning, or rest is more important than having a clean house. There are also periods where everything feels like a well-oiled machine and others when life feels out of control.
One thing that really helped me to get my head around homeschooling, was deschooling. We took more than a year to figure out how the kids liked to learn and how I was going to manage my work schedule. It’s worth it to take the time to find out what works for everyone.
Strike a Balance Between Working and Homeschooling Your Special Needs Children
There is a lot of advice out there about striking a balance and I share a lot on my podcast. It’s great to get different perspectives and to be open to what is possible. But at the end of the day, you need to see what works for you and your children. As I said before, each homeschool is unique.
Once you can shift your mindset, you can start experimenting. And this is where the magic happens! Because you will be able to craft the perfect (unique) homeschool for you and your children and everyone will be happy!